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How To Use A Mage/Sorc Effectively

Hi,

Finished SOA a couple of times now but i never feel i use my arcane casters effectively.

Majority of the time i have them learn the basic Defensive spells, Stoneskin, Mirror image etc. but i hardly ever use them

But for offensive spells i normally only choose Area spells (Skull Trap, Cloud Kill etc.) However since these have friendly fire i often limit or dont even cast them 75% of the time.

So for many fights through the games i just have them equiped with ranged weapons and casting Magic Missile randomly at their targets.

How can i use my casters more effectively? as i feel there wasting a slot in my partys..

booinyoureyesFredB
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Comments

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    Greater Malison & Lower Resistance are great ways to start a battle...

    Madhax
  • UrbanHoundUrbanHound Member Posts: 7
    I'd love to hear some feedback to your inquiry as well. I often clutch my spells so tightly to my chest that my mages are rendered to little more than slingers. That or I exhaust spells and end up resting heavily after every encounter, is that simply the norm? I end up favoring fighter heavy parties as a result.

    reedmilfam
  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    edited February 2014
    Yeah u are definitely not using ur mages well if they are Magic Missiles and AoE is their main arsenal in BG 2.

    Arcane casters are totally dominant in BG 2, and using mages well will make ur life so much easier...

    The no1 purpose of mages in BG 2 is penetrating enemy protections, especially other mages, your typical approach to a mage battle should be:

    1) Dispel Invisibility/Illusions... as enemy mages love to use Mislead in contingencies. So opening with True Sight is usually a good bet.

    2) Pierce Magic Protections. I am not expert enough to remember specifics, but basically Pierce Magic, Warding Whip, Ruby Ray of Reversal, Pierce Shield and Spell Strike to take down protections like Spell Turning, Globe of Invulnerability, etc...

    3) Breach to take down Combat protections like Stoneskin and Protection from Magic Weapons. Once you've done this enemies that usually make Minsc say "I need a bigger sword?!" will drop before his "buttkicking for goodness!".

    I consider that to be the central purpose of mages, but beyond that there's all sorts of powerful strategies u can use.

    1) Melf's Minute Meteors are amazing for a lv3 spell. They count as +5 weapons, allowing them to hit many enemies that otherwise have very high enchantment immunities.

    2) Sequencers and Spell Triggers can be used both offensively and defensively, depending on what spells u load in them. Unless u reload every time u get surprised anyway, I love how u can quickly buff ur party with 1 or 2 sequencers if u get caught by surprise.

    3) Many BG 2 foes have good magic resistance and saving throws. If u want ur AoE attacks to do much damage, or for stuff like Web to work, open with a Greater Mallison. A Greater Mallison combined with Horrid Wilting is utterly devastating, doing a good 70-90 dmg to enemies when they fail their saving throw. For single tough individual foes, Lower Resistance also makes them vulnerable to spell damage, so it's not a bad idea to load a Spell Trigger with Lower Resistance and Greater Mallison to open a tough battle.

    4) U can use Invisibility spells to sneak past battles u'd prefer not to fight, or get into position for a lethal first strike. (Obviously depends on if the enemy has innate True Sight-like abilities or casts the spell). Mislead and Project Image can be very cheesy/effective in this regard, and Simulacrum is absolutely ridiculous.

    There's probably a lot more that I've missed... just some ideas to get ya going :)

    Post edited by Heindrich on
    abacusbooinyoureyes
  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308
    edited January 2014
    This is actually the steepest learning curve of BG (most RPGs actually). Magic is the hardest thing to get a grip on, but the most rewarding too.
    It's worth spending a bit of time going through the spellbook. Pay particular attention to save modifiers on offensive spells, and sentences like "not affected by magic resistance". With Greater Malison (drops all enemy saves by 4) a lowly 1st level spell like Spook can have powerful enemies running for their mamas.
    As @Heindrich1988 says, your first priority as caster is to drop enemy defences, allowing your sword swingers to mop up.

    Also, don't underestimate summoning spells.. High level enemies will just death spell them away, but that's one round where they aren't casting maze, imprisonment, meteor swarm or some other game-ending hellstorm...

    (Edit: And Breach is *amazing*!)

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    edited January 2014

    I'd love to hear some feedback to your inquiry as well. I often clutch my spells so tightly to my chest that my mages are rendered to little more than slingers. That or I exhaust spells and end up resting heavily after every encounter, is that simply the norm? I end up favoring fighter heavy parties as a result.

    @UrbanHound
    That obviously depends on how much u wanna challenge urself. I try to limit myself to 'realistic rest' rules. For weak enemies where magic is not needed, I just let the swords/bows do the work. There are ridiculously powerful spells at the epic levels, so if u rest after every battle, every battle would follow the same pattern.

    1) Improved Alacrity, Timestop,
    2) Spell Trigger: Lower Res X2, Greater Mallison
    3) Horrid Wilting X 2
    4) Minor Sequencer (MMsX2),
    5) Minute Meteors, attack with meteors...

    Encounter over. Which would get boring quickly.

    Realistic rest makes me need to think about when to use different spells.

    Edit: Oh yeah this is also why I love Multi-class or Dual-class mages from Fighters. It means they can be very capable in melee when 'serious magic' is not needed.

    My party consists of:
    Fighter/Mage
    Imoen
    Aerie
    Anomen
    Jaheira
    Minsc

    So that's 3 arcane casters and 3 divine casters (Aerie counts as both), and yet Anomen, Jaheira and Charname are both very capable fighters as well as spellcasters.

    Contrast this with a party from a LP I watched.

    Wild Mage Charname
    Imoen
    Nalia
    Viconia
    Mazzy
    Jaheira

    It had access to higher level spells before me, which is nice, but with only Mazzy and Jaheira holding the line with much reliability, it was very reliant on summoning spells to provide meat shields, whilst spells were needed for almost every encounter.

    Post edited by Heindrich on
  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    I often find myself mainly using area-of-effect spells offensively. Greater Malison, as has been said, is a great opener. It makes all your successive spells more likely to be effective.

    A few party-friendly AOE spells after that include Glitterdust, Slow (it's got a nice -4 save penalty) and Chaos. All of these will soften up much of SOA nicely. Greater Malison -> Slow is still pretty effective into TOB. Slowed enemies have penalites to AC and THAC0, making them easy prey for your melee. It's counterintuitive but your fighters actually do a lot more damage than your casters, but casters have the tools to make enemies easy to hit.

    Much of using an arcane caster effectively comes from understanding the spells available to you at each level. Some have only a couple of good picks, while others have a plethora. Level 8, for example, has Abi-Dalzim's Horrid wilting (an excellent spell) but most of the rest is a bit meh. I'd suggest having a look through both these forums and a listing of the spells available in the manual or Gamebanshee.

  • j3cwillj3cwill Member Posts: 51
    This is great stuff...keep it coming:) I too tend to lean towards melee heavy battles. I look forward to altering how I utilize mages on my BG2EE play through.

  • SkaffenSkaffen Member Posts: 709
    I focus on "lazy" spells: single targets, summoning, party buffing and party friendly AoE from glitterdust upwards. The usual debuffs (esp breach and truesight). Death spell is awesome in SoA and can take out a surprising amount of monsters, most conveniently trolls. In my just completed good run as well as my half-completed evil run I hardly ever used Skulltrap like AoEs and clouds while still emptying my memorized spells by about 2/3 between rests without a lot of micromanagement or spending more time than on my melee guys during combat.

    Yesterday I started SCS and will have to completely rethink that approach... still in Chateau Irenicus and already pondering my 4th CHARNAME and party setup to compensate for the increased difficulty! :)

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    edited January 2014
    The great thing about the amazing depth and variety of the BG (AD&D) Magic system is that there's literally all sorts of viable and effective magical strategies that suit different players.

    I am actually surprised to see some of u say u've completed SoA several times, but never used mages much... cos for me, short of using cheesy tactics like triggering a battle and waiting for mage protections to time out before u actually get stuck in, I'd have no idea how to win certain tricky mage battles without mages of my own. At the very least, as I said, u need mages to penetrate defences so ur warriors/missile characters can take them down.

    Personally in my first playthrough I've tried a quite a lot of different spells, and have fairly balanced spellbooks for tactical flexibility (cos I'm playing blind and don't know what to expect). The stuff that I haven't tried include all sorts of death spells (because I don't know which enemies they'd work against), spells that could cost u loot (Disintegration, Flesh to Stone, Imprisonment etc) and transformation spells (cos I don't like the idea of my characters turning into monsters, even if it is effective.)

    In the LP I watched concurrently with my own playthrough, the player uses summons much more than me, and also Mislead/Simulacrum type spells, as he is less strict about cheesy tactics and resting than me. (But he does roleplay some pretty serious penalties too that I don't enforce on myself.)

    @Corvino obviously loves AoE disabling spells. I personally like Web, but I don't like using Chaos/Horror type spells because despite being magic heavy, my party dishes out most of the damage via melee with Charname, Anomen and Minsc (and later Jaheira too). So I find it annoying to have enemies running away in all directions, possibly drawing me into further mobs or traps. If I had more of a ranged party, it would be less of a problem I guess.

    My point is that learning to use the magic system can be really rewarding, and discovering your own style is for me, one of the biggest appeals of this game. With the exception of a very select few spells that everyone needs (Breach), and no-brainers like Minute Meteors and Horrid Wilting, you can achieve your goals with whatever you prefer.

    booinyoureyes
  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162


    I am actually surprised to see some of u say u've completed SoA several times, but never used mages much... cos for me, short of using cheesy tactics like triggering a battle and waiting for mage protections to time out before u actually get stuck in, I'd have no idea how to win certain tricky mage battles without mages of my own. At the very least, as I said, u need mages to penetrate defences so ur warriors/missile characters can take them down.

    One word: Keldorn

    abacus
  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    Yes, Keldorn is amazing. Still, I use high level mage spells extensively and have done so in every playthrough so far. I'm sure it's possible otherwise, but it would probably be painful.

    I especially like Time Stop or Summon Fallen Planetar when the game decides to spawn mind flayers or other nasties right on top of my party. Get one of those spells off and you're safe. Without a mage... ouch :)

    For many of the easier fights though, I just send in my melee specialists and let them handle it. Maybe I'll throw Improved Haste on them first. No point in going all out with magic all the time.

    booinyoureyes
  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959


    I am actually surprised to see some of u say u've completed SoA several times, but never used mages much... cos for me, short of using cheesy tactics like triggering a battle and waiting for mage protections to time out before u actually get stuck in, I'd have no idea how to win certain tricky mage battles without mages of my own. At the very least, as I said, u need mages to penetrate defences so ur warriors/missile characters can take them down.

    One word: Keldorn
    @booinyoureyes
    I've always struggled with Dispel cos I am never sure 'what can be dispelled', and the fact that it also strips the party of buffs makes it kinda hard to aim.

    There's been so many occasions where I have Jaheira throw a Dispel, it fails to cure whatever disabling effect I was hoping to remove, or remove enemy protections, and instead Anomen's lost his Resist Fear... T_T

    booinyoureyes
  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    edited January 2014


    I am actually surprised to see some of u say u've completed SoA several times, but never used mages much... cos for me, short of using cheesy tactics like triggering a battle and waiting for mage protections to time out before u actually get stuck in, I'd have no idea how to win certain tricky mage battles without mages of my own. At the very least, as I said, u need mages to penetrate defences so ur warriors/missile characters can take them down.

    One word: Keldorn
    @booinyoureyes
    I've always struggled with Dispel cos I am never sure 'what can be dispelled', and the fact that it also strips the party of buffs makes it kinda hard to aim.

    There's been so many occasions where I have Jaheira throw a Dispel, it fails to cure whatever disabling effect I was hoping to remove, or remove enemy protections, and instead Anomen's lost his Resist Fear... T_T
    @Heindrich1988
    It compares the level of the person who casts dispel magic to the person who cast the original spell. The thing about inquisitors is that they cast dispel at TWO TIMES their character level!
    So a level 10 Keldorn's dispel is BETTER than a level 20 Jaheira's, since it is also basically an instant cast.
    That's not even to mention True Sight!

    PS Here is the description: "Base chance is 50%. For every level caster of dispel magic is above caster of dispelled spell chance grow by 5% for every level below drops 10%. There is always at least 1% chance of failure or success"

    So multi-class Jaheira would have a pretty useless dispel, while a fast-leveling bard or an inquisitor (or Yeslick) would have an incredible dispel magic.

    Heindrich
  • nanonano Member Posts: 1,632
    It's worth trying out every spell at least once. You don't have to fill your spellbook with weird spells but throw one in among the others and test it out in battle. Almost every spell has a use and you might be surprised!

    Like... I was pretty shocked myself at the insane damage that Fireshield does. I never really thought much about it, and my plan was for Nalia to tank the
    demon knights in the underdark
    while the rest of the party killed them with arrows. I threw on Fireshield Blue just for fun... and she killed them all on her own.

    booinyoureyes
  • BelanosBelanos Member Posts: 968
    abacus said:

    Greater Malison & Lower Resistance are great ways to start a battle...

    Confusion is a good one as well. It has no effect on your party but does a great job at disabling a large group of opponents. Slow is also very useful, especially when used along with Haste.

  • ou_deisou_deis Member Posts: 13

    2) Spell Trigger: Lower Res, Greater Mallison X2,

    Greater Malison x2... does Greater Malison stack with itself? If so, what other spells stack with themselves? The manual could really be clearer on this. Especially since the description for Chant mentions that "multiple chants are not cumulative" but it doesn't say that for any other spell. I'm a fairly new player (still on first runthrough) and I've had to resort to having my party members experiment on each other... but casting Greater Malison on a member of your own party has no effect.

  • GeeBawsGeeBaws Member Posts: 2

    I am actually surprised to see some of u say u've completed SoA several times, but never used mages much... cos for me, short of using cheesy tactics like triggering a battle and waiting for mage protections to time out before u actually get stuck in, I'd have no idea how to win certain tricky mage battles without mages of my own. At the very least, as I said, u need mages to penetrate defences so ur warriors/missile characters can take them down.

    Like someone else mentioned, I just abuse Keldorn. I normally dont use many buffs to be fair not for mage fights because i just dispel magic with keldorn and then blast through stoneskin charges with a Dual wielding fighter/thief.

    Keldorn was all the anti mage tools ive ever needed, leaving mages free to just focus on damage spells. Like i said though this may change on higher difficulty but on "core" i didnt have any problem with the point and kill tactic.. Except for mind flayers!!! :(

    I did employ some cheesy tactics at the end.. Spell Trigger (or the same spell one level lower, Forgot its name) and 3x skull trap. It just cuts everything apart before it moves, if you have auto pause enemy sighted turned on at least. Mages have never really been a huge problem due to a fairly physical damage heavy group i tend to use.

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    ou_deis said:

    2) Spell Trigger: Lower Res, Greater Mallison X2,

    Greater Malison x2... does Greater Malison stack with itself?
    @ou_deis
    Oops, that was a typo. I meant Lower Res X2 and Greater Mallison.

    I don't think Greater Mallison stacks, although I have tried using it multiple times in a battle, because I am not sure if there is a duration, and/or if the most powerful foes can recover their saving throws... but I've never used 2 GMs from the same Spell Trigger. Actually my current Spell Trigger is: Greater Mallison, Pierce Magic and Lower Resistance.

    I do know that Lower Resistance and Doom do stack, and I've seen more experienced players mention that they like to pack a Spell Trigger with Lower Resistance X3.

  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959
    @GeeBaws @booinyoureyes
    Wow I gotta try out Keldorn more it seems.

    So Dispel works against any protections, assuming u can win the spell level battle?

  • abacusabacus Member Posts: 1,308

    @GeeBaws @booinyoureyes
    Wow I gotta try out Keldorn more it seems.

    So Dispel works against any protections, assuming u can win the spell level battle?

    In the vernacular, "Inquisitor dispels are the Shizay."

    booinyoureyesCorvinoCrevsDaak
  • elminsterelminster Member, Developer Posts: 16,301
    edited January 2014
    If you are looking for a good late game area damage spell that doesn't do damage to friends/yourself consider Horrid Wilting (level 8 spell) and Dragon's Breath (higher level ability).

    booinyoureyes
  • BelgarathMTHBelgarathMTH Member Posts: 5,644
    I saw one small bit of misinformation above. Melf's Minute Meteors do require a roll to hit for each one, but the roll is at +5 to hit, and you get 5 attacks per round. I think it's the best third level spell, much more precise than Fireball, and it can hit and damage liches and demons with its +5 enchantment level. But, it's inaccurate to say that "it always hits".

    Heindrich
  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    Indeed. 5% will always miss, and likely much more since you have crappy mage THAC0.

    Having just finished the whole saga, I think my most used 3rd level spells were Remove Magic and Skull Trap, in that order. One of the things that make Skull Trap useful late in the game is Time Stop -> Improved Alacrity. Their casting time is so low that with the Robe of Vecna you can unload all of them at once.

    I never really liked MMM so much, but I'm a big fan of its big brother, Energy Blades, especially as a cleric HLA.

  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Member Posts: 7,156
    edited January 2014

    I never really liked MMM so much, but I'm a big fan of its big brother, Energy Blades, especially as a cleric HLA.

    Anomen using those with the Gauntelets (however it is spelled) of Ultra Over Powered Specialization reaches 10 APR, many enemies had to regret something......

    A strange fact: I used my mage counterpart of my M/T much more in ToB.

  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    Gauntlets of Extraordinary Specialization. They are lovely, but they are also at the very bottom of Watcher's Keep so... Yeah, difficult to get :)

    CrevsDaak
  • HeindrichHeindrich Member, Moderator Posts: 2,959

    I saw one small bit of misinformation above. Melf's Minute Meteors do require a roll to hit for each one, but the roll is at +5 to hit, and you get 5 attacks per round. I think it's the best third level spell, much more precise than Fireball, and it can hit and damage liches and demons with its +5 enchantment level. But, it's inaccurate to say that "it always hits".

    @belgarathmth

    Ah yes... I stand correctly. MMMs always confused me somewhat, and remain a bit of a mystery. I just know they are typically very useful, and are often the only thing I got that can hurt particularly tough enemies.

    I assumed they never missed cos MMs never miss. Thus when it doesn't do any damage, I assumed it was due to magic resistance.

    I guess if it simply counts as a ranged weapon, that'd explain why Jin was much more accurate with his MMMs than Kang (my sorcerer Charname for the MP game), who misses quite a lot when fighting anything somewhat tough.

    BelgarathMTHCrevsDaak
  • mumumomomumumomo Member Posts: 635
    The thing is if you play with a big group, including 2-3 fighter types, your mage is not needed for 90% of the fights in the game. For the remaining 10%, using your mage as a buffer (haste, improved haste) or protection remover is most often sufficient.

    If you really want to experience how arcane magic is, just play with a small group (solo is even better).

    That way you will be forced to use them to their full potential and you will realize how versatile they are, being able to fulfill all the roles in the party :
    - Best defense : they are by far the best tanks in the game with some protective magic on and they can also use summons to help them tank. They can also protect themselves very efficiently against magic
    - Best offense : whatever the situation, they can face it (lots of mob -> AOE, mages -> protection removal). That being said it's sometimes not very efficient, since magic has a very low dps against single ennemies
    - Almost as much utility as a thief (scout using invisibility, open locks using knock, trigger traps while being protected to nasty effect (spelle immunity)






  • kaffekoppenkaffekoppen Member Posts: 377
    edited January 2014
    I'm not sure mages were intended to be as good at tanking as they really are. There's nothing wrong at all with using them to their fullest, but personally I prefer the more traditional mage role where they sit in the back. Nobody says you can't use their spells frequently, and actually for me that happens naturally as the game progresses and magic becomes more powerful. But yeah, I prefer to have my fighters slice and dice the average group of mutated gibberlings. No shame in having your mages sit idle for that one.

  • ZaknafeinBaenreZaknafeinBaenre Member Posts: 348
    Try turning your mage into a kill-spell beast. I focused heavily on disintegrate, finger of death, petrification, death spell, power word kill, etc. and it was a lot of fun. It avoids the friendly fire problem, and feels more like a real mage. I also focused on single-target spells and summoning. Basically I just took his sling away from him and made him only attack with spells, and it was pretty satisfying.

    Wolk
  • CorvinoCorvino Member Posts: 2,269
    I find the best way to use any caster is try and maintain a balance of spells, and Sorcerers are no exception. Trying to have a number of decent protection spells, direct damage, disables/debuffs, protection removals and the odd party buff will make sure your Sorc stays useful.

    Due to the limited spell selection you get it is definitely worth reading spell descriptions in the manual and planning which ones to take as you advance. Some spells (e.g. Sleep) are great early on but become completely irrelevant later. Some start alright and stay useful. If a spell has a good save penalty (Slow has -4 to save) or no save then it'll often be a good pick.

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